The countryside around Adelaide is dotted with little towns that were transport hubs in South Australia’s early days. There are ports on the gulf and on the Murray. Not to mention the innumerable railway towns, many of which carried agricultural produce or mining products to the Murray or the Gulf of St Vincent for shipping before the rail connection to Adelaide was completed.
Some of these towns are sad and lonely, while others have become beautiful tourist spots for people making day trips from Adelaide. One of the touristy towns is Goolwa, situated on Lake Alexandrina at the mouth of the Murray River. From here you can catch the Cockle Train to Victor Harbor, or simply enjoy a leisurely lunch.
Hector’s on the Wharf – that is Goolwa wharf – makes an effort to make their food special. On my first visit my gluten-free cake, though not made on site, was served warm with cream and berries. So next time I was in Goolwa, Hector’s was on the menu for lunch.
The wharf burger was huge, and served with the lot. The chilli and tomato sauce was the only disappointment, because it was closer to sweet chilli sauce than ketchup or chutney.
The Tuna Nicoise salad was a full-sized meal, with still-warm potatoes and beans, eggs, olives and tuna.
Hector’s is a nice spot to have lunch, with big windows, a lovely view, and plenty of heating on cold winter days. And Goolwa wharf is a good place to ponder history, from South Australian heritage to a recent political controversy.
The view from the wharf takes in the huge and controversial Hindmarsh Island Bridge. It was built in the 1990s in spite of local Ngarridjeri elders complaints that a sacred site for secret women’s business would be disturbed. A royal commission rejected these claims and the bridge went ahead.
The Cockle Train also departs from the wharf. It claims to be the oldest steel railway in Australia. It connected freight from the Murray River boats to the ocean wharves on the other side of Lake Alexandrina at Port Elliot and Victor Harbor. The cute name Cockle Train arose because the beaches at Goolwa used to be a popular place to collect cockles for food.